The President of the Lagos State Catfish and Allied Association of Nigeria (LASCAFAN), Sejiro Michael-Oketojinu, has called for research on more indigenous species of fish in the country so as to be cultivated locally. FarmingFarmersFarms gathered that he made the call during the launch of blast freezer and introduction of frozen catfish in Ikorodu.
Michael-Oketojinu said that it was time for fish farmers to do more when it comes to local production and that there are lots of indigenous species in the wild, stressing that if this is done; in the next few years more species would have been added to the catfish and tilapia that are currently been done in the country. He noted that the launch of the blast-freezer is like a breakthrough for the farmers, that it is one of the things the association has been trying to achieve over the years, to take care of the post-harvest losses that the farmers have been experiencing due to marketing challenges.
“We are lucky to have the World Bank-assisted project, which is the APPEALS project support us with this and we know that it is going to change the narrative in the aquaculture sector”. Michael-Oketojinu also said that the initiative will bridge the gap of fish demand stressing that the frozen catfish is affordable and that “Other fishes in the market are more expensive and when you look at the quality, this is far better because it is indigenous, it’s natural and fresh, it is direct from the farms and the preservation methods make it better and last longer, so I think more people will prefer this because this is locally-produced”.
The Chairman of the Blast Freezer Management, Tayo Akingbolagun, said that the launch means a lot to the farmers that catfish farmers have really suffered in the hands of fish mongers who will await farmers to buy off their fish at any price either it’s comfortable for the farmers or not. “The farmers don’t have the option than to sell because they cannot store, they cannot process and so they have to sell under stress. Today, we have the farmers, who will buy the facility, buy the fish feed, buy the fish, pay for electricity and run the whole cost only to wait for fishmongers to buy at any price they chose to.
He said, “This is not sustainable for the farmers, and so by and large, the fish farmers continue to make losses and shrink and eventually are priced out of the business and the fish mongers continue to feed fat on the huge profit that they made from this business, so we intend to reverse these trends”. Akingbolagun stated further that the imported fish are sold per kilo in cold rooms and that catfish too should be sold like that. “Why don’t we blast freeze our own catfish to be sold likewise, and the beauty of it is that this ones this is fresh; there is no preservative, it has no additive, it comes fresh and it is unlike the ones that will take three to four months before it gets here”.